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What causes neonatal abstinence syndrome?
Almost every drug passes from the mother's blood stream through the placenta to the fetus. Illicit substances that cause drug dependence and addiction in the mother also cause the fetus to become addicted. At birth, your baby's dependence on the substance continues. However, since the drug is no longer available, your baby's central nervous system becomes overstimulated causing the symptoms of withdrawal.
Some drugs are more likely to cause NAS than others, but nearly all have some effect on your baby. Opiates, such as heroin and methadone, cause withdrawal in about half of babies exposed prenatally.
Why is neonatal abstinence syndrome a concern?
When a mother uses illicit substances, she places her baby at risk for many problems. A mother using drugs may be less likely to seek prenatal care, which can increase the risks for her and her baby. In addition, women who use drugs are more likely to use more than one drug, which can complicate the treatment. The risk of contracting HIV and AIDS is also greater among intravenous (IV) drug users.
In addition to the specific difficulties of withdrawal after birth, problems in your baby may include:
Specific drugs often times cause specific problems in your baby:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”